Milestone Monday: Food Dilemma: I’m Doing it All Wrong–Except I’m Not

Author’s Note: Join me every Monday as I share Fia’s ongoing milestone (mis)adventures–from potty training to talking to everything in between.  Mayhem and mischief guaranteed on Milestone Monday!

Eating her Arm, While Distracted by Computer. Whatever Works!

I think we’ve turned a food corner. I’ve written a few posts about how frustrating it is to feed Fi.  And how I’ve just given in to Sesame Street. She watches while I shove food in her mouth. But lately–dare I say–it’s been getting better? In fact, the TV is rarely on when she eats.

Let me first back up: A few days before our move to LA in October, I took Fia to the pediatrician. I thought Wayne had accidentally scratched her eye, though nothing too severe (apparently a corneal scratch will take a 500-pound man to his knees, fyi. She was just a little whiny and occasionally would point to her eye and say “hurts”). Turns out, her eye was fine. But while I was there, the pediatrician asked about some other things, including Fia’s eating habits. I love Dr. Gold because she is a straight shooter. And her advice seems pragmatic.

I proudly told her our television was in transit and how I’ve turned to circus performing during meal times. I dance, I sing. I do anything to distract and shove food in. But I don’t turn on the television. This seemed a huge milestone to me.  She shook her head. Uh-oh, I thought.

She explained that circus performing is just replacing one distraction (TV) with another. And that in taking the path of least resistance, we are allowing Fia to dictate the rules. My heart sank. So distraction isn’t the key? Ack. Bleh.

She went on to say that meals are supposed to be a focused time, where she concentrates on her food. “But it’s so hard,” I complained. Nevertheless, Dr. Gold was adamant.

I hung my head and strolled back home. Three days later we were on a plane to LA, our lives uprooted and chaotic. I had a barfing baby on the travel day, then we were in a hotel for 3 days, then a move into a new house, getting settled, being pregnant, etc. I just couldn’t abide by Dr. Gold’s advice. The cable company came and we were back to being serenaded by Sesame Street in the highchair.

Then something happened. Phil and I went to another couple’s house and as Fia ran around their house, not wanting to eat, we all began talking about how hard it is to get our tots to sit for meals (they have a 3-year-old). The husband said something that changed things around for me. He said their pediatrician had the same take as Dr. Gold. However, at this point in his son’s life, he is far more concerned with nutrition than social graces or anything else. “Screw it,” he said. “Whatever works, do it.” We then went into our various confessions on how we make mealtime bearable (Sesame, Sid The Science Kid, etc).

Perhaps it was the validation of my problem, but at that moment, I decided he was right. She’s not going to go on a date at 16 and ask to watch Elmo. She will learn how to properly eat. But right now, being the little peanut she is, I’d rather she have proper nutrients. If that means distraction, then so be it. (Sorry Dr. Gold.)

What’s ironic is in the process of chilling out over the whole thing, Fia has become a better eater and we have ended up distracting less and less. In fact, I would say Sesame Street is on a couple meals a week now (as opposed to 85% of the time). We do do other things; we read books, she plays with toys, she runs around the yard–so yes, we distract. But overall, we can usually get her to sit in her highchair and eat. Granted restaurants are a pretty horrendous experience, but that’s an easy fix: don’t take her to restaurants. That’s what date night is for.

I think taking the pressure and worry off somehow made her eat better. And she is not ruling our lives in the process. We are strict with some things, lenient with others. We all know that parenthood is about picking battles. So in the food battle, I do take the path of least resistance and ya know what? It’s working.

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